A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

April 20 - PANAMA CANAL TRANSIT, PANAMA

semi-overcast 85 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Our more than 10-hour transit of the Canal began as rope handlers rowed out to attach the Serenity to the little engines.

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We entered the first set of locks. The day was partly overcast, perfect for enjoying this whole engineering marvel.

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The locks will eventually raise our ship 85 feet above sea level to Gatun Lake, which is above the Continental Divide.

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We are in the original locks, which have two lanes that can be used in either direction.

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Canal operations are supported by a work force of over ten thousand men and women.

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The new locks, which opened last summer, were built to accommodate the huge "Neo-Panamax" ships, like this one!

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After arriving in Gatun Lake, we waited for our scheduled time to enter the locks which would lower us back to sea level and the Pacific Ocean.

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Centennial Bridge

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Going down..

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An LPG Ship in the new Pacific locks

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Hey, look, I can touch the walls - yes, it's a very tight fit!

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Panama is building a huge new container port.

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The Bridge of Americas at sunset

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The setting sun spotlights Panama City's Bio Museum, which was designed by Frank Gehry

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Modern Panama City catches the light.

Posted by Swenigale 09:35 Archived in Panama

April 21 - PANAMA CITY, PANAMA

semi-overcast 89 °F

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Here we are, about to board an early morning tender. Cruise ships anchor out in the ocean, since it’s too shallow to dock anywhere in Panama City.

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The tender brought us to the Amador Causeway, the 6-kilometer Pacific breakwater that was built when the Canal was dug.

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Brand new biking and walking paths line the whole route. The causeway connects the four small Causeway Islands with the mainland.

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Our goal today was to walk all the way to the Biomuseo.

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We were accompanied along the way by birds with an amazing ability to sound like cell phone beeps!

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And the ever-present buzzards

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This one couldn’t rip open a floating garbage bag – must be a Hefty bag.

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The museum’s focus is to tell the story of “How Panama Changed the World”.

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Those vibrantly colored roof panels cover lots of open space.

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Besides the eight galleries the open ground floor panels tell the story of the origin of the Panamanian isthmus and its gigantic impact on the planet’s biodiversity.

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We needed some time in the air-conditioned coffee shop before setting off on our walk back to the tender pier.

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Hästa’s bright color fits right in with Ghery’s vision!

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Anyone know what kind of tree this is?

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So far, far away on a hot, hot day!

Posted by Swenigale 14:05 Archived in Panama

April 23 - QUEPOS, COSTA RICA

sunny 90 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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I "captured" a three-toed sloth today using my phone camera held in front of my guide's fancy schmancy scope!

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We are on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica in the country's 2nd smallest but one of the most biodiverse National Parks.

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Forbes lists this park as among the world's twelve most beautiful National Parks.

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One of the strangest looking birds I have ever seen!

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A two-toed sloth and baby

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It had rained during the night, so sloth fur is still drying out.

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Keeping our distance - yes, it's a spider

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After a long trek in steamy forests -

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A dip in the ocean sounds just right!

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White-faced monkeys came swinging through the trees.

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A land crab - what colors!

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On our ride back to the tender pier we got a glimpse of a family enjoying their Sunday lunch.

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Posted by Swenigale 15:35 Archived in Costa Rica

April 24 - CALDERA, COSTA RICA

sunny 90 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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We had a long bumpy mini-bus ride, passing cattle ranches and sugar cane plantations in this relatively drier part of Costa Rica. It is the end of the Dry Season, with rains to come. Most towns have a bull ring in which Costa Rican men "run with the bulls".

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Our "drop-in" site for our peaceful, yet exciting float on the Corobici River.

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Some class 1 & 2 rapids called for expert handling.

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We were in good hands!

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At this time of year the water is low, but the river banks show how high and fast the river can run.

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A Tiger Heron

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We saw marmots, herons and wood storks. Farther back in the trees we were watched by Howler and White-Faced Capuchin monkeys.

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Rest stop (in the shade! We are just 550 miles north of the Equator)

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A Spoonbill high in the trees - pink, because it eats shrimp.

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There are crocodiles too! Caught this one eyeing us as he swept his powerful tail in a U-turn.

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The scenic waterway flows from Lake Arenal to the Pacific Ocean.

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Our two-hour adventure on the river was followed by a delicious meal of Tilapia, Rice & Beans and local beer.

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It was a spectacular setting, right on the river!

Posted by Swenigale 12:25 Archived in Costa Rica

April 26 - ACAJUTLA, EL SALVADOR

sunny 90 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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We received a lovely welcome in the “Land of Volcanoes”, a country trying hard to rise above its turbulent past.

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This tiny Mesoamerican nation has 187 volcanos and is only 8,000 square miles. Twenty-two are active!

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A bus ride of almost 2 hours brought us to Cerro Verde (Green Mountain) National Park, with 3 craters – going up!

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The youngest volcano, Izalco, originated in 1770. It kept erupting for almost 200 years and became known as the Lighthouse of Pacific.

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Even now, at the driest time of year, a few blossoms can be found.

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Our trek around the rim of the crater was a cool change at over 6,000 feet high, from the 90 degree plus heat at sea level!

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We are in what is called a cloud forest – with a view to volcanic crater lake Coatepeque.

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On a walk devoted primarily to seeing different types of trees and foliage, we were surprised to find a bird’s nest in the mud by our pathway.

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Our Park guide giggled when I asked him to pose with Hästa.

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We were delighted to sample Pupusa, the National dish.

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El Salvador needs tourism to help them grow. They have a beautiful country and we wish them all the best. They gave us the best welcome and farewell of 2017!

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Posted by Swenigale 12:15 Archived in El Salvador

April 29 - 30: CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO

sunny 72 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

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Find Hästa in Cabo!

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Serenity anchored with a perfect view of El Arco, at the tip of the Baja Peninsula. Tenders brought guests to shore in the afternoon.

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We anchored overnight – morning light bathing the rocks

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On Sunday we experienced a genuine highlight – swimming with dolphins! Carlos, a dolphin trainer and people instructor was our guide.

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We rubbed her belly………..

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Struck a pose………..

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Held on for a ride……….

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Kissed

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And were kissed!

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And got splashed!

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Pat the dolphin

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Two of the stars

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Well done, Cabo Dolphins!
Now back to the ship to lead the last Sunday worship for which we are responsible.

Posted by Swenigale 17:45 Archived in Mexico

May 2 - SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, USA

sunny 72 °F
View Serenity 8 on Swenigale's travel map.

Last port of our extended 2017 World Cruise

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On Monday afternoon May 1st at sea, in a rare occurrence, we passed Crystal Symphony, our sister ship! Quite the occasion – with passengers and crews on deck cheering and waving and the captains greeting each other with the ship’s horns!

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We arrived in San Diego on Tuesday morning, and after being cleared by US immigration officials we set off on a two-hour walk.

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The USS Midway is berthed here. It is now a great museum which we enjoyed touring ten years ago.

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“Unconditional Surrender”

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Hästa’s last picture for our 2017 extended world cruise.

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The Victorian era Gas Light District is close to the piers.

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Old City Hall from 1874 – It’s California – nothings very old!

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Does this look like a New England “Saltbox” style house? It is! It was built in 1850 in New England, shipped around Cape Horn (no Panama Canal yet!) and reassembled in San Diego.

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Thinking of our family in Missouri! We all love KC Barbecue! (“Top Gun” the movie did some filming here 31 years ago.)

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Part of a World War II Memorial

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Jacaranda trees are starting to blossom. I love purple trees!

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This is our final post for 2017 on Crystal Serenity. Thanks for checking in!

Posted by Swenigale 15:15 Archived in USA

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